Speeches - Veterinary workforce - AVMA President Address to a Group of Veterinary Students on Public Health Career Opportunities

2005

GOOD MORNING COLLEAGUES, INVITED GUESTS AND FELLOW STUDENTS. I AM PARTICULARLY PLEASED TO BE HERE TODAY BECAUSE I, TOO, AM A STUDENT. WHETHER I'M IN MY CLINIC OR AT TUFTS TEACHING, I LEARN SOMETHING NEW EVERY DAY...FROM MY STAFF, FROM MY STUDENTS AND FROM MY COLLEAGUES. LEARNING HAS BECOME A WAY OF LIFE FOR ME...AS I HOPE IT WILL FOR YOU. AND I CAN THINK OF NO OTHER FIELD IN VETERINARY MEDICINE THAT IS MORE OF AN ONGOING LEARNING EXPERIENCE THAN PUBLIC HEALTH. AS HERBERT SPENSER, THE BRITISH PHILOSOPHER AND SOCIOLOGIST, SO WISELY PUT IT, "THE GREAT AIM OF EDUCATION IS NOT KNOWLEDGE BUT ACTION." AND TODAY, VETERINARY PUBLIC HEALTH IS WHERE THE ACTION IS.

TO PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD, THE CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL AND PREVENTION IS, PERHAPS, THE FINEST EXAMPLE OF THAT MAGNIFICENT COMBINATION. ESTABLISHED IN 1946 TO HELP FIND WAYS TO CONTROL MALARIA, THIS GREAT INSTITUTION NOW SPANS THE GLOBE AND EMPLOYS SOME OF THE WORLD'S HARDEST WORKING, LIFE-LONG STUDENTS, MANY OF WHOM ARE VETERINARIANS.

IN PUBLIC HEALTH, EVERY DAY IS AN ADVENTURE IN LEARNING. EVERY DAY PRESENTS NEW PUZZLES AND CHALLENGES. AND EVERY DAY PRESENTS NEW OPPORTUNITIES TO POSITIVELY IMPACT NOT ONLY ANIMAL HEALTH, BUT HUMAN HEALTH AS WELL.

WORKING WITH THEIR COLLEAGUES AND COLLABORATORS AT THE LOCAL, STATE, FEDERAL AND INTERNATIONAL LEVEL TO FIND THE CAUSE AND CURE OF EMERGING AND ZOONOTIC DISEASES, PUBLIC HEALTH VETERINARIANS REPRESENT A NEW ERA OF PIONEERS. 21ST CENTURY PIONEERS WHO, LIKE THEIR FOREBEARERS, ARE ALWAYS CURIOUS ABOUT WHAT'S JUST OVER THE HORIZON.

PUBLIC HEALTH VETERINARY MEDICINE OFFERS A BROAD VARIETY OF WAYS IN WHICH YOU CAN BE INTIMATELY INVOLVED IN ENSURING AND PROTECTING THE HEALTH AND SAFETY OF ALL AMERICANS AND THEIR ANIMALS. WHATEVER YOUR INTEREST – EPIDEMIOLOGY AND INVESTIGATIONS, SCIENTIFIC RESEARCH AND PROTOCOLS, OR REGULATORY AFFAIRS AND PUBLIC POLICY, TO NAME A FEW – PUBLIC HEALTH VETERINARY MEDICINE REPRESENTS AN OUTSTANDING OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO SERVE YOUR COUNTRY WHILE ENGAGING IN SOME OF THE MOST CHALLENGING, YET REWARDING, WORK IN SCIENCE.

NOW YOU MAY BE THINKING, WELL DR. CHILDERS THAT'S ALL FINE AND GOOD BUT YOU NEED AN ADVANCED DEGREE TO GET INTO THE PUBLIC HEALTH ARENA. CERTAINLY, HAVING A MASTERS OR DOCTORATE IN PUBLIC HEALTH OR BEING BOARD CERTIFIED IN PREVENTIVE MEDICINE CAN HELP OPEN DOORS TO A TREMENDOUS NUMBER OF OPPORTUNITIES. HOWEVER, THERE ARE ALSO ENTRY LEVEL VETERINARY PUBLIC HEALTH OPPORTUNITIES AVAILABLE. IN SOME CASES, IT'S POSSIBLE TO COMBINE ON-THE-JOB TRAINING WITH CLASSROOM EXPERIENCE.

IF YOUR BENT IS TOWARD MANAGEMENT AND LEADERSHIP, PUBLIC HEALTH VETERINARY MEDICINE OFFERS EXTRAORDINARY OPPORTUNITIES FOR ADVANCEMENT THAT YOU MAY NOT BE AFFORDED IN PRIVATE PRACTICE.

IF YOU ARE A MEMBER OF A MINORITY, YOUR PARTICIPATION IN VETERINARY PUBLIC HEALTH IS PARTICULARLY NEEDED. MINORITY POPULATIONS ARE OFTEN SEVERELY AFFECTED BY EMERGING INFECTIOUS DISEASES. UNFORTUNATELY, BECAUSE OF ITS SUCCESS, MUCH OF THE PUBLIC HEALTH EFFORT IN THIS COUNTRY WAS REDUCED SHARPLY OR SHUT DOWN SOME YEARS AGO. NOW IS THE TIME TO REBUILD THAT PUBLIC HEALTH INFRASTRUCTURE. NOW IS THE TIME TO BECOME A PIONEER IN OUR INNER CITIES AND ON OUR NATIVE AMERICAN RESERVATIONS, HELPING THOSE WHO MOST NEED YOUR HELP.

AS FOR THE AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION, WE ARE DOING OUR PART TO HELP ENSURE YOUR FUTURE AS VETERINARY PUBLIC HEALTH PRACTITIONERS. THE AVMA, IN COLLABORATION WITH THE ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL COLLEGES, IS WORKING ON A MAJOR FEDERAL FUNDING INITIATIVE, THE VETERINARY WORKFORCE EXPANSION ACT, TO BUILD INFRASTRUCTURE AND PROVIDE ONGOING SUPPORT FOR FACULTY AND PROGRAMS DEDICATED TO INCREASING HUMAN RESOURCE CAPACITY IN PUBLIC PRACTICE, INCLUDING PUBLIC HEALTH.

WE'RE ALSO WORKING ON THE NATIONAL VETERINARY MEDICAL SERVICE ACT, WHICH WAS SIGNED INTO LAW IN 2003. THIS LAW AUTHORIZES THE SECRETARY OF AGRICULTURE TO ENTER INTO AGREEMENTS WITH VETERINARIANS TO SERVE IN AREAS WHERE THERE ARE VETERINARY SHORTAGES, SUCH AS PUBLIC HEALTH, IN EXCHANGE FOR PAYMENT OF THE VETERINARIANS' EDUCATIONAL LOANS. IN 2005, THE SENATE APPROVED $500,000 TOWARD THIS EFFORT. THE AVMA IS CURRENTLY WORKING WITH THE DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE TO HELP DETERMINE THE RULES OF THAT PROGRAM AND TO OBTAIN MORE FUNDING IN 2006 AND BEYOND.

FINALLY, THE AVMA IS PART OF A COALITION THAT IS SPONSORING A STUDY TO QUANTIFY GAPS IN VETERINARY INFRASTRUCTURE; NOTABLY THE SHORTAGE OF VETERINARIANS INVOLVED IN OUR NATION'S FOOD SYSTEMS. THIS WILL INCLUDE PUBLIC HEALTH VETERINARIANS, WHO PLAY NUMEROUS AND VARIED ROLES IN SUSTAINING THE SAFETY, QUALITY AND VIABILITY OF THOSE SYSTEMS. THE STUDY WILL ALSO IDENTIFY PROACTIVE APPROACHES TO REDUCING ANY SHORTAGES.

AVMA WILL NOT REST UNTIL OUR VETERINARY COLLEGES ARE FULLY FUNDED AND GRADUATING AN APPROPRIATE NUMBER OF PUBLIC HEALTH VETERINARIANS TO MEET OUR NEEDS. WE WILL NOT REST UNTIL YOUR DEBT LOAD IS LIGHTENED WHEN YOU VOLUNTEER TO SERVE YOUR COUNTRY AS A PUBLIC HEALTH VETERINARIAN. AND WE WILL NOT REST UNTIL PUBLIC HEALTH VETERINARIANS ARE RECOGNIZED AS INDISPENSABLE MEMBERS OF THE INTERNATIONAL MEDICAL COMMUNITY FIGHTING EMERGING AND ZOONOTIC DISEASES.

I SINCERELY HOPE THAT YOU WILL ENJOY YOUR VISIT HERE TODAY AND THAT YOU WILL SERIOUSLY CONSIDER A FUTURE IN PUBLIC HEALTH. FOR PUBLIC HEALTH IS THE FUTURE. AND OUR COUNTRY AND PEOPLE AROUND THE WORLD ARE LOOKING TO YOU TO HELP ENSURE THEIR FUTURE. THE AMERICAN VETERINARY MEDICAL ASSOCIATION IS PROUD TO HELP SPONSOR TODAY'S EVENT. WE WOULD BE THRILLED IF, BECAUSE OF OUR EFFORTS, YOU DECIDED TO BECOME A PUBLIC HEALTH VETERINARIAN. THERE IS NO WISER CHOICE...NO HIGHER CALLING.